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Cumming School of Medicine
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University of Calgary Calendar 2023-2024 Cumming School of Medicine 5. Doctor of Medicine 5.2 Pattern of Education
5.2 Pattern of Education

The curriculum at the Cumming School of Medicine has been designed in response to the evolving needs of students, patients and society. It is focused on four foundational principles, which include spirality, generalism, health equity and structural competence, and patient centredness. In addition, a longitudinal course focused on professional development will provide opportunities for students to dive into clinical and scholarly areas of importance to them as future physicians, within the frame of service to the communities within which they live and serve.

The spiral curriculum allows for key concepts to be presented repeatedly with increasing layers of complexity or depth. Therefore, new learning revisits previous learning and builds on it. Curricular content will be rooted in the principles of generalism (i.e., collaboration, complexity, context, communication, comprehensive care, and continuity), and focus on undifferentiated and complex clinical problems. Clinical content will include social context. The curriculum will be integrating content and concepts of health equity and structural competence into the clinical presentations. Teaching, therefore, will be oriented around patients to reflect and centre their unique experiences of health and illness.

The organization by clinical presentations allows for a comprehensive approach to patient problems. Collaboration with multidisciplinary colleagues is incorporated, with emphasis on the physician as a member of the health-care team. Through a longitudinal course, students will have an opportunity to explore areas of interest in greater depth, including clinical interests, scholarship, community engaged learning and Indigenous, local and global health.

Medical students are exposed to patient care from the time they enter the Cumming School of Medicine. This begins with exposure to “standardized patients” (actors who portray patients to facilitate early learning of clinical skills). Subsequent exposure to real patients, with faculty supervision is facilitated by the Cumming School of Medicine's associations with inpatient and outpatient settings throughout Calgary and Alberta. In these settings, students are able to participate in patient care and a team approach to health-care delivery from the beginning of medical school.

The curriculum maintains an active learning environment with an emphasis on self-regulated learning. In the pre-clerkship academic years, approximately 50 per cent of scheduled instructional activities are spent in learning sessions with a reduced number of peers. These sessions include small groups, anatomy and clinical skills sessions. In small group sessions, students will have a unique opportunity to create an approach to problem solving using diagnostic classification schemes, to analyze the objectives and content from lectures in an in-depth fashion, and to communicate and exchange feedback with faculty and peers. In the anatomy learning ecosystem, students will build their knowledge guided by clinical cases, supported with prosected cadaveric specimens and anatomic simulators, in addition to a multitude of online learning tools. Clinical skills sessions will be hands-on opportunities to learn patient-centered approaches to communications, physical examination, and procedural skills. Student attendance at small group sessions is considered mandatory.

The weekly schedule provides students with ample protected time to independently acquire knowledge prior to attending sessions to apply knowledge. As students are responsible to themselves, their cohort, and ultimately their patients and society, all provided resources and required assessment activities must be completed in order to participate in learning sessions.

The third and final academic year is called the Clinical Clerkship. During this time, students work on hospital wards, in ambulatory care clinics and doctors' offices as well as in emergency departments in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Students rotate through a variety of specialties including Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry, Paediatrics, Anaesthesia, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Students also have 14 weeks of elective experience in the clerkship year. A small number of students will complete a rural, longitudinal clerkship experience with some rotations in the aforementioned disciplines. Further information regarding this experience can be found on the following website: UCLIC.

The Undergraduate Medical Education program employs electronic-based materials in lectures, small groups, and other learning events. As such a laptop computer or similar device (e.g. tablet) is strongly recommended for all students.

Participation in Rural Rotations: In the School's response to rural social accountability, the program provides teaching at several regional centres such as Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Yellowknife and rural sites such as Brooks, High Level and Pincher Creek, etc. Students should expect to do a minimum of 4 weeks of their clinical experience (pre-clerkship and clerkship) outside the city of Calgary except in unusual circumstances. A longitudinal placement at a rural site in the clerkship year provides a further option for a longer rural training experience for interested students.